Low-Fat Cakes

Low-Fat Trend

Who says deserts and cakes can't be delicious, healthy, and low in fat? People all over the world are taking an interest in low-fat, no-fat, low-saturated-fat, and generally "healthier" recipes, including whole grain ingredients, fruit-based toppings, and non-fat icings. Baking professionalMartha Stewart devotes a special section of her cake decorating books to low-fat recipes, and the crème-de-la-crème of the industry, Betty Crocker and Duncan Hines, feature expanding lines of low-fat deluxe cake mixes in an array of mouth-watering flavors. If you're looking for low-fat cake recipes, simply open any cookbook or search the Internet, where you will find scores of delectable options.

Baking with Fruit

Naturally sweet, low in calories, and containing no fat, fruits are making their way into cake recipes. There are literally hundreds of apple cake recipes and deserts, and who hasn't enjoyed the sensational taste of strawberry shortcake or devoured the last slice of lemon meringue pie? Berries (frozen and fresh) are popular baking fruits, and fruit desert recipes include pineapple upside-down cake, blueberry muffins, raspberry puree, cranberry cheesecake, rhubarb pie, lemon poppy seed cake, banana cake, chocolate banana bread, pumpkin pie, pumpkin cheesecake, fruitcake, cranberry-orange muffins, date walnut cake, and many more.

Low-Fat, High-Fiber Cakes

Some low-fat cakes are distinguished by their whole food ingredients, such as whole wheat flour, oat bran, oatmeal, wheat germ, and more. Whole grains are high in soluble and insoluble fiber, low in fat, and aid indigestion. For added texture and taste, toss some whole grains into any standard cake recipe. Today, whole grains are readily available in health food stores and in the cereal aisle or organic food section in supermarkets.

"Good"Oils

With all the hype in the media about the evils of fat in our diets and how fat is the leading cause of heart disease and obesity, it's hard to know which oils have been deemed "bad" or "good." As the popular adage states: "Not all fats are created equal." The fats to avoid are saturated fats - especially trans fatty acids - which raise bad cholesterol, lower good cholesterol, and raise triglyceride levels. If it says "partially hydrogenated oil" or "hydrogenated oil" on the label, these are the trans fats you want to reduce.

Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are better choices, as they raise good cholesterol in the blood. For baking, select olive, canola, peanut, safflower, sunflower, soybean, fish, and corn oils. Some margarine varieties also fall into this category, along with nuts, seeds, ground flaxseeds, and avocados.

Low-Fat Cake Recipes

All-time favorite low-fat cakes are sponge cake and angel food cake. Made from egg whites, sugar, vanilla, flour, and almond extract, these cakes contain no fat at all. However low-fat doesn't mean low taste! Served plain, dusted with icing sugar, topped with crushed fresh berries, filled with whipped cream, drizzled with fruit sauce or chocolate sauce, or frosted with your favorite icing, these low-fat cakes are devoured by millions each day.

Making Sponge Cake (Angel Food Cake)

The secret to making sponge cakes lies in the egg whites, and specifically in the beating of the egg whites, which gives these cakes their "rise."

To make cakes with egg whites, follow these basic steps:

•- Prepare a clean, dry mixing bowl and beaters

•- Using eggs at room temperature, separate the eggs whites from the egg yolks

•- Beat egg whites until they appear foamy, gradually adding sugar/cream of tartar

•- Continue beating until the egg whites form stiff, glossy peaks (If you tilt the mixing bowl sideways or upside down, the egg whites should remain stiff in their place)

•- Gradually fold the rest of the ingredients into the egg-white mixture using a rubber spatula or balloon whisk (ensuring batter doesn't deflate)

•- Pour batter into an ungreased tube pan, bake, and remove from pan to cool